It was brought to our attention that many residents of Prince George's County were being issued "Incident/Investigation Report" forms, like this one, by Animal Management Division, which stated that
"If you are feeding stray cats you must stop immediately; It is illegal and you can be fined."
One item was glaring by its absence on the form -- the citation to the law being violated.
The fact is, there is no law prohibiting the feeding of stray cats ... or birds, squirrels, deer, etc. Therefore, the Animal Control officer is prohibiting the person from engaging in a legal activity. This is a violation of the person's constitutional rights. In addition, the prohibition of providing necessary sustenance to an animal is the definition of animal cruelty.
After many attempts to reason with many county officials over nearly a decade, about the unconstitutional enforcement of the Animal Control Statute, we wrote a letter to Mr. Wilson, Director of the Department of Environmental Resources, June 9, 2008.
More than eight months later, we received a response from the Office of Law, February 20, 2009. Of course, this letter, referred to as "gibberish" by one former County Council member who was also an attorney, attempted to support the policies of Animal Management.
"The saddest part was the shelter wasn't even completely full that day."
"Chief Taylor talks a great game. He makes it sound like everything's going to be hunky-dory, but at the end of the day, he's been there a long time and hasn't done anything to help the animals."
Although vehemently denied by Chief Taylor, accusations have been made that he has ordered the mass euthanasia of the animals currently sheltered within PGAMD.
With the departure of the Animal Protection League a month ago, some fear that the shelter will not be run as well and that euthanizations will increase, even with the new building.
It's time that we stop perpetuating the myth that there are not enough homes for these animals and recognize that the problem is the poor performance of the kill shelter philosophy.
Mr. Wilson announced a New Philosophy at the Animal Services Facility on November 12, 2009.
He Announced that the Facility will increase public hours. Animal Control Officers will return animals directly home, rather than to the Facility, whenever possible. They will advocate for changes in the Statute to treat all animals fairly. They will involve the community in volunteer and foster networks.
... but Rodney Taylor contradicted Mr. Wilson, and said "I wouldn't call it a 'new philosophy' -- we're trying to enhance what we're doing." (The average kill rate over the past ten years had been 60%. There were few volunteers, and no foster program.)
Mr. Wilson attempted to give the staff the benefit of the doubt and brings in a speaker who has transformed an open admission municipal shelter into a community asset that saves 90% or more of all animals.
"Building a No Kill Community"
Presentation by Susanne Kogut, Director, Charlottesville/Albemarle SPCA
at the Prince George's County Animal Services Facility
He also provided training at the two-day No Kill Conference in Washington DC.
There was no measurable change in outcomes.
Compassion Watch Episode 7
"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"
Press Conference, July 24, 2010
Gazette Article, July 29, 2010
Court asked to scratch Prince George's ban on feeding stray cats
Feral Friends, county resident oppose fines for providing for animals
Washington Post Article, August 5, 2010
Suit seeks to end Prince George's ban on feeding stray cats
Gazette, Letter to the Editor, August 12, 2010
County should lose battle over feeding stray cats
The Gazette did a real service reminding its readers that Prince George's has a brainless, heartless law forbidding the feeding of stray animals ["Court asked to scratch Prince George's ban on feeding stray cats," July 29]. I hope [Sue] Brown and [Timothy] Saffell win and win big, getting court costs and more from the unwary taxpayers who had this unenforceable statute blithely established in their names, and that Feral Friends continues their good work -- important work that the county declines to do since it apparently fails to provide a lucrative opportunity for some otherwise unemployable friend of a politician.
Woody Woodruff, Lanham
On September 28, 2010, PeTA sent a letter to the Prince George's County Council opposing TNR.
On October 11, 2010, Prince George's Feral Friends, SPCA sent a letter to the County Council exposing the misinformation in the letter from PeTA.
In the meanwhile, we learned that the Commission for Animal Control was illegally holding meetings behind closed doors, working on a revision to the Animal Control Statute. This was a violation of the Maryland State Open Meetings Act. Complying with the Open Meetings Act requires that a number of procedural requirements be met. Among them are a timely notice of the meeting, admission of the public (except for 14 specific exceptions), a quorum, voting, recording votes, substantive minutes, the retention of the notice and the minutes.
We sent a complaint to the Attorney General's Office.
During the following months, the Commission allowed us to attend their meetings. The more we heard, the more violations we added to the list.
To give the appearance of complying with the act, the county added an item to the crawl on the county's main web page. It appeared along with half a dozen other items, like "Air Quality Alert", and "Tour the Landfill".
The Commission is comprised of nine members, some of which are designated by various county offices. The rest are entrenched citizen members, the terms of which have all expired. The chairman made an observation which is worthy of note: He said, on the record, that the way a person becomes a member of the commission is to be a friend of someone who is already on the commission. (The definition of cronyism.)
Their work, a re-write of the Animal Control Statute, if enacted into law, would set back the progress toward humane treatment of animals and their people by about fifty years. Fortunately, since it was developed illegally, it can not go forward at this time.
Prince George's County Animal Management has set an all-time record, at least since the first use of the current database system. During the month of June, 970 animals were KILLED at the Animal Services Facility, breaking the record of 969 in July 2003.
Guest Column, Bowie Blade-News, June 16, 2011
Feral friends say the fur could fly in Prince George's
Prince Georges Star/Gazette, July 28, 2011
More work needed to make Prince George's County animal services 'great'
Washington DC Examiner, August 9, 2011
Prince George's County Animal Management Under Intense Public Scrutiny
Prince Georges Star/Gazette, August 11, 2011
Kill rate at Prince George's Animal Services Facility is disturbing
Judge Signs the Order, January 3, 2012
If you have not yet signed our petition, please do so.
At the Candidate Forum,
Please sign the petition, and then please
Rushern L. Baker III, County Executive
We need to continue to expose the unconstitutional enforcement of the law by Prince George's County Animal Management and encourage county residents to challenge the county when false accusations are made.
We need to inform the people of the county, and the County Council who will vote on it, about the regressive nature of the Commission's proposal for the Animal Control Statute, in case it comes forward at some future time.
We also need to bring attention to the fact that Prince George's Animal Services Facility is stuck in the 1950s dog catcher mode due to the kill philosophy of the current management. Prince George's County residents deserve better for their tax dollars.
Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA, Inc., is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Maryland, desegnated as 501(c)(3) by the IRS.